Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has become the first nationwide grocery chain to require suppliers of its private label and other food products such as produce, meat, fish, poultry, and ready-to-eat foods to have their factories certified against one of the internationally recognized Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards.
Selected by CIES, the Food Business Forum, to safeguard and ensure high quality in the international food supply chain, GFSI standards provide real time details on where suppliers fall short in food safety on a plant-by-plant basis, and go beyond current FDA- or USDA-required audit process. Under the GFSI program, producers of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club private label and other foods sold in the United States must be audited by independently trained, approved, and licensed auditors who are experts in their industry.
The GFSI requires food suppliers to achieve factory audit certification against one of its recognized standards, which include Safe Quality Food (SQF), British Retail Consortium (BRC), International Food Standard (IFS), or an equivalent such as Global-GAP. Wal-Mart has published a schedule to suppliers requiring completion of initial certification between July and December 2008, with full certification required by July 2009. Audits will be completed by approved third party auditing companies.